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How to Dress for Your First Job

March 17, 2015

How to Dress for Your First Job

One of the most important, and overlooked aspects of starting a new job is dressing appropriately for the workplace. This seems to be an especially tough challenge for new college graduates who find it hard to transition from their casual college days to a more formal work environment.

Career counseling experts stress that new workers pay attention to basic skills such as manners, communication, and dress. That’s because your professional image can make or break your career, regardless of how talented you may be. It can also impact how much you get paid.

We are a visual species. Research shows that we form a first impression of someone within a nanosecond. Changing that impression is extremely difficult, if not impossible. Thus, paying attention to how you dress and how well you are groomed  — think: hair style, tatoos and body piercings (no-nos other than the socially acceptable one earring per ear), make-up, no strong scents, clean hands and nails (manicures are not just for gals), etc. — is crucial to having a successful career.

Freedom of expression is not the norm — most employers have dress codes. Some companies are very conservative in their dress policies and require business attire, while others are more business casual. Not sure if your company has one? Ask your company’s HR representative.

Mastering how to dress for your job can help you excel in your new position.

Hillary’s Dress for Success Plan

Hillary excelled in college and graduated with honors with a degree in finance. Her hard work paid off when she landed her dream job as a financial analyst at an investment firm. She knows how competitive the financial services industry is and she’s up for the challenge and eager to stand out. She’s a diligent worker and feels  she’ll perform well in the company. But she knows her college wardrobe of skinny jeans, t-shirts, and the occasional sweats and flip flops won’t cut it at work. A personal image plan is in order — professional wardrobe, haircut and style, make-up, manicure, pedicure, etc.

She started by creating a checklist, but quickly realized she needed more than that to stay on top of her plan. She'd been using Samepage to manager her college projects. So she decided to create a Samepage to manage her Dress for Success Plan. Her page featured:

  • Her checklist.

  • Photos of outfits and hairdos she liked & shared her Samepage with her new wardrobe stylist, hairdresser, and a few close friends to view and comment.

  • Her budget so she stays on track with spending.

  • Links to articles and tricks/tips on how to improve her professional image — including manners and communicating.

Hillary’s now starting to feel as confident about her new professional image as she is about her knowledge and skills.